At UNITI partner Semiahmoo House Society we put a lot of thought and effort into reviewing our performance at all levels to ensure that we are on the right track. These include Board consultations with our owners (who we have defined as ‘the community’), Ends (our mission) consultations and recommendations performed by the Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo, and the Include Me! Quality of Life initiative performed by an external researchers that measure the quality of life of the people we support. One of the most valuable reviews of our performance comes every four years through our accreditation process, overseen by the Council on Accreditation (COA). This process is necessary, enlightening, and, at times, all encompassing. Accreditation is on-going, and every four years a team of expert accreditors visit our services and programs for a period of four days to review, in person, the work that we do. Prior to their visit, we gather together reams of evidence and write narratives that demonstrate how we comply with their rigorous administrative and service delivery standards. Everyone in the organization participates, in one way or another, in the accreditation process, which was led this year by Lindsay Green. Lindsay’s creative and positive attitude made the sometimes onerous work of gathering evidence more meaningful. In fact, she brought a competitive element to accreditation by asking us to create Game of Thrones houses for accreditation, including our own shields and heraldry.
The Houses of Accreditation at Semiahmoo House Society
The value of COA accreditation is that it is an external expert measurement of how we are doing as an organization. And, I am pleased to report that we are doing very well. This week we received an email from the COA President and CEO letting us know that we are receiving expedited re-accredited because we received no out of compliance ratings in their fundamental practice standards:
COA’s program of quality improvement is designed to identify providers that have met high performance standards and have made a commitment to their stakeholders to deliver the very best quality services. COA is proud to recognize Semiahmoo House Society as one of these outstanding providers, and we wish you the very best in your continuing work with the individuals you serve.
—Jody Levison-Johnson, President and CEO of the Council on Accreditation
While our full accreditation report will not arrive until December, we were given a preview of the review during our Exit Meeting, at the end of the site visit by our accreditors, Dale Peterson, John Draude, and Annamarie Appel, they noted the following about our programs and services:
Board Governance: “You have one of the most sound governance models. You do it and you do it well.”
Finance Department: “Open, honest, and transparent. The department not only meets the standards, it exceeds them.”
Human Resources Department: “One of the best trained and equipped work forces that [they] have seen in a long time. This speaks to the depth and breadth of your professionalism.”
Exit Meeting—Game of Thrones Style!
Personal Development and Acquired Brain Injury Services: “These programs are truly person-centred, which is refreshing to see.”
Family Services: “Very few organizations could pull family services off in such a respectful manner.”
Staffed Residential (Group Homes): “You are the ‘best of the best.’ The homes were colourful, delightful, nicely furnished, comfortable, welcoming and respectful to the people you serve…you could see person-centred practice in action.”
Home Share Services: “The individuals living in the homes are truly members of the family. An incredible program that should be expanded.”
Chorus Affordable and Inclusive Apartment: “Left me breathless. You should be very proud of yourselves.”
Peninsula Child Care: “Such a nurturing environment. The staff are attentive to the children.”
Rec & Leisure Services: “The team’s energy was out of this world. Love that you are looking at the future in the right way.”
WISE Employment Services (including Transitions): “One of the best I have ever seen.”
Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo (SAS): “What an amazing group of people! You really are about blending into the background and making sure that the people you support are out in front.”
Finally, the lead accreditor, Dale, stated that he noticed that we are influential on social media and suggested that after the meeting we go outside and take a picture of ourselves and post it with the caption “This is what AWESOME looks like.” We didn’t as we are modest at heart, but that was a very positive way to end our meeting.
Semiahmoo House Society is proud to be reaccredited in such a positive manner and will continue to consult and learn as we move forward in supporting people with disabilities to be fully included in their communities.
Executive Director at Semiahmoo House Society
UNITI is a partnership of three affiliated societies that have provided inclusive community services for over 61 years all over Surrey and White Rock. Semiahmoo House Society provides quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families. Peninsula Estates Housing Society provides affordable and inclusive housing that reflects the diversity of our community. The Semiahmoo Foundation assures that UNITI has the recognition, relationships and resources to support an inclusive community.